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Elementary Education with Special Education Add-On Licensure

Department of Teacher Education and Learning Sciences

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The NC State Special Education add-on licensure program is intended for students enrolled in the undergraduate Elementary Education degree who want to add Special Education licensure to their initial teaching license. The add-on licensure program reflects contemporary issues in today’s classrooms, schools, and society concerning
students with diverse learning needs.

Candidates in this optional add-on program will expand their general knowledge and specific skills to teach students with high-incidence disabilities (such as specific learning disabilities, ADHD, mild intellectual or behavioral disabilities, or autism) who are educated in inclusive general education classrooms with supportive resource assistance. Candidates will receive preparation in the characteristics of students with disabilities, principles of Universally Designed core instruction, and instructional strategies and behavior management techniques for teaching students with disabilities
in elementary and secondary schools.

The program includes an emphasis on data-based decision-making using informal and formal assessments, the development of informal diagnostic techniques, and procedures for adapting curriculum and instruction.


The coursework consists of a four-course sequence of graduate-level courses that begins in the Spring semester of the Sophomore year and continues through the Fall of the Senior year. These courses are graduate-level courses that are also taken by students in NC State’s Master’s degree programs in Special Education. Courses in the add-on program are offered via online or hybrid formats. The following courses are taken in addition to the Elementary Education major course of study:

CourseSemester Offered*Year
ECI 585 – Education of Exceptional Children (3 hrs)Spring semesterSophomore year
ECI 579 – Organization and Management of Inclusive Classrooms (3 hrs)Fall semesterJunior year
ECI 571 – Instructional Strategies for Students with Disabilities (3 hrs)Spring semesterJunior year
ECI 581 – Educational Diagnosis and Prescription For Children With Exceptionalities (3 hrs)Fall semesterSenior year
* With the addition of the add-on courses to the elementary education program of study, students will enroll in 18 credit hours per semester.

Course Descriptions

Catalog Description: Introduction to the field of special education. Focus on historical overview, definitions, and terminology in basic areas of exceptionality; etiological factors in exceptionality; developmental and learning characteristics of each area of exceptionality; and educational settings and strategies employed in special education including Multi-Tiered Systems of Support and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support. Review of current educational laws and policies affecting special education.

Objectives of Course:  

  • Compare, contrast, and critique perceptions, foundations, and purposes of special education through multiple lenses (e.g., biomedical model, social model, students’ own experience).
  • Describe the ways in which US students are diverse and explain factors that could contribute to equitable and inequitable education.
  • Analyze perspectives on exceptionality and impacts on teaching practices.
  • Synthesize historic and modern-day federal laws that govern the education and rights of students and people with disabilities in the U.S.
  • State and explain basic guarantees provided to people with exceptionalities through the laws and list goals that still must be achieved.
  • Explain, compare, and contrast characteristics of the major disability categories as written in IDEA from a strengths perspective.
  • Explain and critique intervention practices in place for students with exceptionalities.
  • Apply knowledge of exceptionalities and systems processes (e.g., UDL, MTSS, etc.) to plan and present educational resources.

Catalog Description: To increase students’ knowledge of persons with high incidence disabilities (i.e., learning disability, mild intellectual disability, and serious emotional disability), and how to manage the behavior of all pupils in educational environments. Characteristics of students with high incidence disabilities will be emphasized, as well as strategies to reduce the likelihood of problem behavior of all pupils in the classroom.

Objectives of Course:  

  • Identify specific learning, social, and behavioral characteristics found in students with LD, MID, and EBD.
  • Correctly define, using observable and measurable terms, school-based behaviors.
  • Accurately assess school-based behavior of students.
  • Identify teacher behaviors that are conducive to establishing a positive classroom climate and one that is supportive of all students.
  • Describe behavior management procedures known to be effective in changing inappropriate behavior of all students.
  • Provide, in verbal and written fashion, classroom-based rules and procedures meant to prevent behavior problems in all students.
  • Examine their own teaching behaviors so that they can identify the function between what a teacher does, and how a student responds behaviorally.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of using various classroom-based behavioral intervention strategies

Catalog Description: Methods and materials for teaching students with disabilities in elementary and secondary school. Focus on research-supported instructional strategies for teaching academic skills, Universal Design for Learning, implementation of appropriate academic interventions, and evaluation of instructional outcomes within the context of Response to Intervention and Multi-Tier Systems of Support.

Objectives of Course:  

  • Review and select research-based interventions for students in MTSS in Tiers 2 and 3.
  • Translate educational research into practice by identifying instructional strategies supported in the research literature, translating them into classroom instructional procedures (Research to Practice/Lesson Plan), and evaluating instructional outcomes.
  • Analyze commercially available materials (Materials Review) in regard to use with students with disabilities that address their strengths and needs including task analysis, sequences of examples, practice opportunities, and test examples.
  • Demonstrate facility in evaluating and implementing examples of direct instruction.
  • Describe the rationale for and give examples of teaching academic learning strategies to students with disabilities.
  • Implement appropriate academic interventions, and monitor student performance using CBM procedures to evaluate and modify instruction as appropriate.

Catalog Description:  Concept of educational diagnosis of students with exceptionalities, including examination of educational diagnostic procedures in current use in special education. Development of informal diagnostic techniques and procedures for adapting curriculum and instruction for learners with exceptionalities.

Objectives of Course:  

  • Understand and explain the basic terminology used in educational assessment.
  • Define and discuss various types of assessment and the steps of the assessment
  • process.
  • Identify best practices to follow in the assessment process.
  • Understand how social, behavioral, and emotional characteristics can affect student achievement.
  • Understand how intelligence and memory tests are used in the assessment process for exceptional students.
  • Understand how selected standardized achievement tests are used to assess exceptional students’ skills.
  • Interpret, from an instructional perspective, standardized data from psychoeducational reports and other formal and informal reports.
  • Understand the Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) in K-12 public schools in North Carolina.
  • Summarize the Prereferral-Placement process in North Carolina through examination and application of the DEC process.
  • Apply the content of the course to the implementation of MTSS.

Field Experience

Students in the add-on program will have an enhanced student teaching experience in the spring semester of their senior year. In addition to their full-time student teaching experience in an elementary general education classroom, students in the add-on program finish the spring semester with a field experience in a special education setting. Students will observe, assist, and teach alongside a special educator in a resource or inclusive classroom.

Note: Successful candidates will emerge with two NC teaching licenses: Elementary Education (K-6) and Special Education: General Curriculum (K-12). North Carolina Special Education licensure is K-12; therefore, special education content and, potentially, field experiences will extend beyond the elementary grades.

State/Praxis II Testing Requirements